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List of chemical warfare agents

This article forms part of the series
Chemical warfare
(A subset of Weapons of mass destruction)
Lethal agents
Blood agents
Cyanogen chloride (CK)
Hydrogen cyanide (AC)
Blister agents
Lewisite (L)
Sulfur mustard gas (HD, H, HT, HL, HQ)
Nitrogen mustard gas (HN1, HN2, HN3)
Nerve agents
Tabun (GA), Sarin (GB)
Soman (GD), Cyclosarin (GF)
Novichok agents
Pulmonary agents
Chloropicrin (PS)
Phosgene (CG)
Diphosgene (DP)
"Non-lethal" agents
Incapacitating agents
Agent 15 (BZ)
Riot control agents
Pepper spray (OC)
CS gas
CN gas (mace)
CR gas
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A chemical weapon agent (CWA) is a chemical substance whose toxic properties are used to kill, injure or incapacitate. About 70 different chemicals have been used or stockpiled as chemical weapon agents during the 20th century. These agents may be in liquid, gas or solid form.

In general, chemical weapon agents are organized into several categories according to the manner in which they affect the human body. The names and number of categories varies slightly from source to source, but in general, types of chemical warfare agents are as follows:


Nerve agents

Main article: Nerve agent

Nerve agents are chemicals that disrupt the mechanism by which nerves transfer messages to organs. The disruption is caused by blocking the acetylcholinesterase, an enzyme that normally destroys and stops the activity of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter. Poisoning by a nerve agent leads to contraction of pupils, profuse salivation, convulsions, involuntary urination and defecation, and eventual death by asphyxiation as control is lost over respiratory muscles. Nerve agents can be absorbed through the skin, requiring that those likely to be subjected to such agents wear a full body suit in addition to a gas mask.

Blood agents

Main article: Blood agent

A blood agent (or cyanogen agent) is a chemical compound, containing the cyanide group, that prevents the body from utilizing oxygen. The term "blood agent" is a misnomer, however, because these agents do not actually affect the blood in any way. Rather, they exert their toxic effect at the cellular level by directly interrupting cellular respiration (see cyanide).

Blister agents

Main article: Blister agent

A blister agent (or vesicant) is a chemical compound that causes severe skin, eye and mucosal pain and irritation. They are named for their ability to cause large, painful water blisters on the bodies of those affected.


Main article: Lewisite
  • 2-Chlorovinyldichloroarsine (Lewisite 1)
  • Bis(2-chlorovinyl)chloroarsine (Lewisite 2)
  • Tris(2-chlorovinyl)arsine (Lewisite 3)

Nitrogen mustards

Main article: Nitrogen mustard
  • Bis(2-chloroethyl)ethylamine (HN1)
  • Bis(2-chloroethyl)methylamine (HN2)
  • Tris(2-chloroethyl)amine (HN3)

Sulfur mustards

Main article: Sulfur mustard
  • 1,2-Bis(2-chloroethylthio) ethane (Sesquimustard; Q)
  • 1,3-Bis(2-chloroethylthio)-n-propane
  • 1,4-Bis(2-chloroethylthio)-n-butane
  • 1,5-Bis(2-chloroethylthio)-n-pentane
  • 2-Chloroethylchloromethylsulfide
  • Bis(2-chloroethyl) sulfide (Mustard gas; HD)
  • Bis(2-chloroethylthio) methane
  • Bis(2-chloroethylthiomethyl) ether
  • Bis(2-chloroethylthioethyl) ether (O Mustard)

Other blister agents

  • Ethyldichloroarsine (a lewisite analog; ED)
  • Methyldichloroarsine (MD)
  • Phenyldichloroarsine (PD)
  • Phosgene oxime (CX)

Pulmonary agents

Main article: Pulmonary agent

A pulmonary agent (or choking agent) is a chemical weapon agent designed to impede a victim's ability to breathe, resulting in suffocation.

Incapacitating agents

Main article: Incapacitating agent

An incapacitating agent (sometimes riot-control agent) is a chemical compund that produces temporary physiological or mental effects, or both, which will render individuals incapable of concerted effort. Most incapacitating agents have very little in common in terms of chemical nature or effects, but are groups as "incapacitating" by virtue of their reduced lethality.

Lachrymatory agents

Main article: Lachrymatory agent

A lachrymatory agent (or lachrymator) is a group of incapacitating agents that irritate the eyes to cause tearing, pain, and even temporary blindness. The most common lachrymatory agents are tear gas and pepper spray.

Other incapacitating agents


Main article: Toxin

A toxin is a biologically produced substance that causes injury to the health of a living thing on contact or absorption, typically by interacting with biological macromolecules such as enzymes and receptors.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "List_of_chemical_warfare_agents". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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